"Many thanks for your support and advice over many years, Nick. It has been much appreciated... It has been good working with you and I'll certainly recommend you, if asked, for any specialist work."
- Jane Hargreaves
Head of Quality and School Improvement, Children's Services
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
2009

Photographing Children

This question was originally raised by a Local Authority, but our advice will be of interest to parents and teachers, too.

Do pupils and students (and/or their parents) have a right to prevent anyone in school or college from taking and using their photographs? The law is not as clear as it might be, perhaps because most of the litigation which might have clarified the law has been related to crime, matrimony and commerce, rather than to education. See for example these reported court cases:

  • Duchess of Argyll v Duke of Argyll (1965)
  • Marcel v Metropolitan Police Commissioner (1992)
  • Hellewell v Chief Constable of Derbyshire (1995)
  • Douglas v Hello! Ltd (No 3) (2005) and
  • David Murray v Big Pictures (UK) Ltd (2008).

The Information Commissioner's Office issued some advice on photographing children in June 2010 and said:

  • the Data Protection Act does not apply to personal photographs for the family album, even if the pictures are taken at a school nativity play;
  • the Data Protection Act does apply to official school photographs used in school identity cards or on school files or in a school prospectus, but there is no breach of the Act if parents and children are told that pictures are being taken for these purposes; and
  • that pictures taken in school by a local newspaper for publication will not breach the Data Protection Act, if parents and children are told that this may happen.

Carers who are concerned about the privacy of adopted or fostered children (usually they are worried that published photographs or videos will enable unwelcome adults to find these children) need to take their own view on the matter. The school should warn the child's carers, not necessarily individually, but most Heads will realise that many parents are delighted to see pictures of their child in the local paper or on television.